My MacBook (bought in 2008, unfortunately just before the unibody MacBook Pros were introduced) has always been running with upgraded memory and storage but it was starting to creak. Â Performance is okay (it’s not earth-shattering but all I do on this machine is digital photography-related workflow) and it won’t take any more RAM than the 4GB I have installed but I was constantly battling against a full hard disk.
After a recent holiday when I was unable to archive the day’s shots and had to start filling my “spare” (read old and slow) memory cards to avoid deleting unarchived images, I decided to upgrade the disk. I did briefly consider switching to a solid state solution (until I saw the price – enough to buy a new computer), then I looked at a hybrid device, before I realised that I could swap out the 320GB Western Digital SATA HDD for a 750GB model from Seagate. The disk only cost me around Â£73Â but next day shipping bumped it up a bit further (fromÂ MiscoÂ - other retailers were offering better pricing but had no stock). Even so, it was a worthwhile upgrade because it means all of my pictures are stored on a single disk again, rather than spread all over various media.
Of course, no image really exists until it’s in at least two places (so I do have multiple backups) but the key point is that, when I’m travelling, Lightroom can see all of my images.
I didn’t want to go through the process of reinstalling Mac OS X, Lightroom, Photoshop CS4, etc. so I decided to clone my installation between the two disks. Â After giving up on a rather Heath Robinson USB to IDE/SATA cable solution that I have, I dropped another Â£24.99 on a docking station for SATA disk drives (an emergency purchase from PC World).
I’m used to cloning disks in Windows, using a variety of approaches with both free OS deployment tools from Microsoft and third party applications. As it happens, cloning disks in OS X is pretty straightforward too; indeed it’s how I do my backups, using a utility called Carbon Copy Cloner (some people prefer Super Duper). Using this approach I: created a new partition on the new disk (in Disk Utility), then cloned the contents of my old hard disk to the new partition (with Carbon Copy Cloner); then test boot with both drives in place (holding down the Alt/Option key to select the boot device); before finally swapping the disks over, once I knew that the copy had been successful. Â Because it’s a file level copy, it took some time (just under six hours) but I have no issues with partition layouts – the software simply recreated the original file system on the partition that I specified on the new disk. Â There’s more details of the cloning process in a blog post from Low End MacÂ but it certainly saved me a lot of time compared with a complete system rebuild.
Now all I need to do is sort out those images…